Responding to "No"
I’ll never forget the day my horse refused that barrel jump. Back when I as 13 yrs old I had my first horse named Mission. During one of our lessons he cantered up to the barrel jump and slammed on the breaks.
My coach insisted I smack him - over and over. This cycle of smacking and refusing repeated several times before I gave up.
I felt awful.
I never wanted to take lessons with that coach again.
My gut told me there was a reason that Mission was saying no - and I wasn’t listening.
Over the next decade I was obsessed with understanding horses better.
I was fed up with the notion that we should just smack our horse if they aren’t doing what we want.
So many times I’ve heard the mantra “ask, tell, demand” or “add more pressure until you get what you want.”
What if your horse is scared? Pushing a scared horse usually causes them to explode and puts both the horse and handler at risk of getting hurt.
What if your horse is confused? How is adding more pressure going to help your horse understand what you want?
I discovered there are 4 main reasons a horse says no, and depending why they say no changes the best way to respond and help them say yes.
- Doesn’t want to
There are different body language cues a horse does which reveal which reason they are saying no.
How we help them say yes is different for each reason of saying no.